Last Night’s Primary and the Trump/Desantis Battle for Control of the GOP

I did a follow-up to yesterday’s Q&A with former Trump adviser and GOP consultant Sam Nunberg about last night’s primary results to find out: What do they tell us about the Trump/De Santis battle for control of the GOP party?

Listen at “Vicky Ward Investigates.”

BREAKING: Kemp Beats Trump-Backed Purdue

I spoke to veteran political consultant Sam Nunberg, who worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, about what the election results tonight—particularly in Georgia and Alabama—will tell us about the battle for the control of the Republican Party. He has some very interesting things to say—particularly about the relevance of what happened in Wisconsin last weekend.

Listen to the episode at “Vicky Ward Investigates.”

Everyone is Talking about New York Real Estate

What’s going to happen to New York in the wake of the pandemic? How will the looming repeal of Roe v. Wade affect real estate in the city? These are things that a lot of people are talking about.

It’s perfect timing, then, for the publication of The New Kings of New Yorkwhich comes out today from The Real Deal

What Exactly Were Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin Up to in the Middle East?

I reached out to former White House ethics czar Richard Painter today following the latest reporting from the New York Times, which puts both Kushner and Mnuchin negotiating in the Gulf after the election (there, so they say, on behalf of the outgoing Trump administration). These visits raise important questions about what exactly was being discussed in those meetings in the last months of the Trump administration: Was it purely about government business or was it personal?

I spoke to Painter about the pieces of this story that played out in plain sight and why we’ve yet to see a full investigation—by the DOJ, Congress, or the Inspector General of the Treasury—to find out what Kushner and Mnuchin were really up to in the Middle East.

Listen to our whole interview at “Vicky Ward Investigates.”

Is the Swamp Finally Being Drained?

You may not have connected three stories that broke recently, but you should.

There is a link between the FBI suit against billionaire casino mogul (and Trump pal) Steve Wynnthe superseding indictment against Trump crony Tom Barrack, and the recent guilty plea by Richard Olson, the former ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Watch the video at “Vicky Ward Investigates” to find out what it is.

“This is a War Between Russia and the United States. It Just Happens to be on Ukrainian Soil.”

The last time I published a newsletter that quoted Russian supermodel Kira Dikhtyar, she was in New York. The war with Ukraine had just begun, and Dikhtyar found herself suddenly unable to get any work—no matter that she had dual citizenship. (She forwarded me an email from a New York modeling agent stating that they were no longer representing Russian models.) When we spoke first, she told me that she had many friends and relatives in Ukraine and that she was close friends with Ukrainian models also in New York.

But that was then.

Since then, on April 26, Dikhtyar returned to Moscow, where her son lives—a journey that was both stressful and complicated. She told me she was held for hours at the Russian border on account of her dual citizenship and faulty spelling on her documents. In our Q&A below, she explains that she began to feel that “this is a war was between Russia and [the] United States. It just happens to be on Ukrainian soil” and that therefore she was forced to choose sides. It was the discrimination she received by the United States, she says, that made it impossible for her not to choose Russia. The first signal she gave that she had chosen was to post a photograph on Instagram of herself kissing her son, whose head was newly-shaved with the Z sign clearly visible above his left ear.

I had a series of conversations with Dikhtyar over several days. Read them at “Vicky Ward Investigates.”

“How Can You Win a War With the Whole World?”

These past two weeks, I’ve had a series of conversations with Leonid Dyachenko, the former son-in-law of Boris Yeltsin, who lives in London but still has a Russian citizenship. He shared his thoughts on Russia, Ukraine, the West, and whether or not Putin has gone mad. (His answer is yes.)

Presidential Relatives Behaving Badly: What’s the Difference Between Hunter Biden and Jared Kushner?

Given that, in the last few weeks, I’ve written about ethics controversies around both Jared Kushner and Hunter Biden, I thought it was important to think about the differences and similarities between the two.

Kushner’s appearance of self-interest (his investment fund received $2 billion from PIF, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, over the objections of PIF’s financial advisors) is far worse than Biden’s, because Kushner was actually an official in the Trump White House, guiding policy in the Gulf, and, so it appears, possibly benefitting financially from policy favorable to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS—possibly at significant cost to U.S. national security. (See both my previous reporting on this—Part OnePart Two, and Part Three—as well as my book, Kushner Inc.)

Hunter Biden, on the other hand, has (sensibly) been kept far away from his father’s White House, but, even so, his past efforts at influence-peddling his father’s vice-presidency bear shades of Billy Carter. And there are questions as to whether Joe Biden, as vice-president, was as careful as he should have been at keeping out of his son’s business dealings. The big question remains as to why close Putin ally Vladimir Yevtushenkov, with whom Hunter Biden reportedly met, is still not sanctioned. Had Joe Biden never met with some of Hunter’s foreign business partners, who knew Yevtushenkov, the question would not be so problematic.

But the bottom line, as the ethics lawyer Richard Painter rightly points out below, is that the two cases are really not comparable. Jared Kushner’s conduct should not be the measuring stick by which we judge Hunter Biden. Regardless, that does not mean the media should give Hunter Biden—or his father—a pass, which does seem to be what is happening in the mainstream press.

I did two interviews with Painter, one on Kushner and one on Biden. Read them both at “Vicky Ward Investigates.”

“That’s Why I Am Scared to Speak Out”

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of newsletters about a controversial protest in March at Yale Law School during which the police were called.

For those pieces, I had spoken to Zack Austin—the head of Yale’s Federalist Society chapter, who were the hosts of the event—and to Kristen Waggoner, General Counsel for the conservative group ADF, who was one of the speakers. To tell the whole story, I wanted to speak to one or more of the protesters to get their point of view. However, some were hesitant to go on the record, and I wondered why.

But, today, in the wake of the leak of the SCOTUS opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade, one of the protesters sent me the following email and said I could run it as long as they remained anonymous. This person explained why they want to remain anonymous at the bottom.

You’ll note that the Federalist Society, which was started at Yale roughly forty years ago, is mentioned several times. The five conservative judges on the Supreme Court who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett) are all Federalist Society members. (John Roberts, listed as a Federalist Society member in the ’97-’98 directoryrefused in 2005 to comment on his membership.) And it was the Federalist Society who hosted the March event at Yale Law School that caused the alleged ruckus.

But the goals of the Federalist Society, per the words of my anonymous source, go way beyond the campus in New Haven. The words that follow are, I believe, far more unsettling and pertinent to all of us than a campus ruckus created by a bunch of angry students.

Read the full letter with its frightening perspective at “Vicky Ward Investigates.” 

“Anything Can Happen in New Jersey”

My eye was caught by a Vanity Fair headline a few days ago:

Did Jared Kushner’s Father Set Up Former N.J. Governor Jim McGreevey?

The byline of the Vanity Fair piece caught my eye: It was an excerpt from Cultivating Justice in the Garden State: My Life in the Colorful World of New Jersey Politicsa new book by longtime New Jersey politician Ray Lesniak, who served in the N.J. State Senate from 1983 to 2018.

I had spoken with Lesniak back when I was reporting my book. After such a long career in Jersey politics, there were few who knew that world—and the complicated dynamics between Kushner, McGreevey, and Chris Christie—better than him.

Now, with the recent news of Jared Kushner’s $2 billion investment by MBS—against the advice of a panel of advisors, no less—and my own work to uncover the reasons behind that decision (see Part OnePart Two, and Part Three), I thought it was the perfect time to ask Lesniak about what he makes of the deal and the current state of the Kushner family legacy.

To read our conversation, go to “Vicky Ward Investigates.”